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temporary replacement a non productive manager

By Netpro2551 ·
I am about to take a temporary assignment (about a month) to see if I can resolve productivity problems with a small field support team (7 techs)in a very large company. I was offered the team lead's position, but am not interested in relocating. The current team lead is reportedly a major part of the problem. I imagine that I will be seen as the hated "Pro from Dover".

I have been very effective in the past at motivating small teams although not in this short a period and usually from a position as a peer rather than a consultant. I expect that I will be empowered to retain the current team lead or replace him at my discretion and yet I know that the reality may be a somewhat more lengthy process.

Does anyone have any experience in a similar situation?

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Agreed!

by Sue's Comment In reply to fall guy

If the manager is the problem then the staff will know what to do. If not then the problem rests higher up.

Can't the existing lead be sent on some useful courses like Communication Skills, Time Management and Project Management? If he is the problem then these skills might help him to cope. If not, then these skills will still come in useful, he might appreciate the break in routine and his nose will not be put out of joint!

If the staff do well then he might appreciate the tip to leave well alone and take the credit!

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Assess the conditions

by jason.ungerer In reply to temporary replacement a n ...

Netpro,
I was in a situation like what you have described. I did the exact opposite, I got a transfer to another office. But What I can suggest is the following. If you know the the team well enough, and you know the business process and policies. Try findout why obscure decisions were made against the norm. Or why certain descisons were taken, against the norm. You will probably find that the team is under performing because the manager has not kept to a descison of soem sort, and they were made to pay a heavy price. Communication is a big part of leading a team and communicating with the client\s. I would also suggest a look and learn process. When you get there, just take some time to observe and see what the guys are getting up to. Almost be like a detective undercover.

Best of luck.

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Pins and needles

by jameshoy In reply to temporary replacement a n ...

It's a tough job to walk into. If there is a buddy buddy build in the old team, you would most likely be looked at as the bad guy trying to get a friends job. If it is a productive minded crew with out a good lead and they feel that way, you could be the answer to their prayers. Just walk in with a clear head and worry about fixing the problem, not what they might think. Take your time befor letting someone go, unless that someone interfears with your main goal and works his buddies aginst you behind your back. Then you will know what to do! Don't wait too long to size up the big picture, time could cost you sucess.

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5 dysfunctions of a team

by jm2 In reply to temporary replacement a n ...

wonderful book -- read it but if you dont have time:

TRUST is the bedrock of a successful team. your task is to build trust in you and trust in their teammates.

and you could fire all 7 of them and hire competent temps instead!

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Be a Mentor

by dfritzke In reply to temporary replacement a n ...

If the current team lead is still there, you need to bond with him and mentor. Even if you can him th eteam that is left will mot have a leader and still continue in the path set before them. Unless you can find a star to rise up and take over, I would turn my attention to the current team lead and show him the light, assist him to a better management path. Most Large Companies think that staff management comes easy to all but some need alittle push, others need a kick in the A**. Good Luck

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Ask Questions

by rgun2515 In reply to temporary replacement a n ...

The best way to find out about a department is to sit all the employees down together in a non threatening environment and ask. Bring them out to the local bar for a drink or a dinner even. I have had the same task in the past, and aside from spending time with the exiting manager, this is how you get the most feedback. It's your job to listen and read between the lines...

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Focus, be sincere

by kmajor In reply to temporary replacement a n ...

I have been in this situation and know that this will be a very tough assignment. I would 1) focus on the task at hand which is improving productivity. This is your guiding light. 2) Be sincere, respectful yet persistent with the team, keeping communication as open as possible. Get the team involved in solving the problem - let them make a decision to participate or not. You may be surprised by the # who will help you.

Other techniques: Find the floor leader (the person who influences the group the most but perhaps doesn't have the title) and engage them in the goal, stay honest and business focused yet approachable. Bave regular checkpoint sessions with the leader who assign this task to you. On a 30 day task I would ask for twice weekly phone calls - 15 minutes - just to keep everyone informed. Always discuss status based on progress toward the goal and issues that need senior management attention (such as a possible reassignment or hiring of the team lead).

If the team lead will not cooperate, remember that is his/her decision, not yours, so proceed as needed for the business in a professional and considerate manner.

Some folks make a terrific living out of turnaround situations and proving that you can handle tough situations will be great for your career.

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30 days

by Prefbid II In reply to temporary replacement a n ...

Unless you already know more about the situation, I doubt that 30 days is enough time to fix anything. However, having been the "fix it" guy for several projects and teams, I suggest looking for the solution in the following order:

1. Team communication issues.
2. Team scheduling issues.
3. Personality disconnects.
4. Training or skill shortfalls.
5. Management.

If you get down to #5 and don't have good turn-around points, fire the manager. Given your time constraint, I would suspect you'll have to whip through the list in about 2 weeks. That will give you 2 weeks to start the rebuilding process. I would normally suggest 3 to 6 months for each, but slash and burn can work if you put some effort into it, can talk like a diplomat, and be as hard nosed as Patton.

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Stick to the facts

by gavin In reply to 30 days

The facts are that a problem has been identified, and you are there to help. Communication is always a must; subordinates generally will react badly by default, and you need to nip this in the bud. Your goals need to be very clear, and you need to be diplomatic in telling everyone on the team, in regular status meetings, what findings you have. If they don't know what you're doing, and you aren't giving them clear facts about things, they will most definitely think you're up to no good. Remember you're the outsider, but you need to win the trust of the people to make them believe that you're not there to just replace things.

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From the other side of the fence.

by VirtualGardener In reply to temporary replacement a n ...

Having been the subordinate in this same situation I can tell you one thing you cannot do. Leave without making major permanent changes. This will push morale and performance even lower. Management sets the mood and if the techs aren't performing up to par, then you know where the problem lies. I have noticed that the larger the corporation, the more hesitant they are to terminate a management level employee. Why? My last employer (notice I don't work there anymore) was very much like this one I would guess. The local Admin was pretty technically knowledgeable, but a lousy people person. Knew how to **** everyone off in less time than it takes to type this sentence. When things got really heated and he tried to terminate me with manufactured evidence, HR got involved. They fought tooth and nail to keep the manager and in the end told the team that it was our fault the situation had gotten where it was. (Gave me a raise and a company car so I could work out of a different office 90 miles away from the jerk. They knew I had done nothing wrong.) Then they did the usual stuff: had the manager go to Anger Management classes and Communication training. Waste of time. He is who he is. A week in class doesn't change someones personality. Get rid of the guy immediately. If he was even a remotely decent manager, then you would never have had to be called in. Things must be bad for it to have gotten this far. Even if the real problem is unruly team members, a decent manager should have been able to handle it or ask for help from HR on his own long ago. Let him resign and get someone new in the position. That more than anything else will improve the teams performance and morale. My guess is that they know what the resolution should be: termination. Any other response from you will be seen as management defending another manager just because he is a manager. They will see it as a form of class discrimination. Management versus employees. My old company is losing all the techs one by one. Major brain drain. With only 30 days to find a resolution, I don't see you have any other choice.

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